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Gender and the nation in popular Cambodian heritage cinema

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Item Summary

Title: Gender and the nation in popular Cambodian heritage cinema
Authors: Austin, Jessica Lynn
Keywords: filmmaker
Cambodia
Issue Date: May 2014
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
Abstract: The Filmmaker's Palace Master filmmaker Ly Bun Yim lives in Ta Khmao, a suburb of Cambodia's crowded and energetic capital, Phnom Penh. During my first visit to see him in June of 2013, Mr. Ly gave an electrifying tour of his self-designed studio, which doubles as his home. He bought the property upon returning to Cambodia decades after he fled from the genocidal class-warfare waged by the Khmer Rouge soldiers between 1975 and 1979. While the studio is outfitted with upholstered walls meant to mimic the inside of a royal palace as well as absorb outside noise during filming, a palpable emptiness fills the space. The filmmaker has released only one film since his return, and that film, nearly ten years ago. Yet, as Ly Bun Yim excitedly mimed camera angles on his roof-designed-as-temple, traces of disappointment were hard to find. Similarly, on my second visit to interview the man behind some of the most innovative special-effects in the history of cinema in Cambodia, Mr. Ly told the story of the production of one of his greatest films, Puthisen Neang Kongrey (1967), with almost no breaks in his narrative to address the great losses he and his film collection have endured since that time. Only a small fraction of Ly Bun films have survived to this day.
Like the majority of the roughly forty films available to us that were produced during the cultural boom of the 1960s-'70s in Cambodia, any of Mr. Ly's films that reach us today have likely been copied from their original 35mm onto VHS and finally onto VCD format. The films suffer from washed-out colors, over-exposure, audio track irregularities, and other issues that detract from the original audio-visual experience.1 These forty films represent around ten-percent of Cambodia's film heritage from what has recently been referred to as the "Golden Era" of Cambodian film production. Let me repeat that, but in the reverse. Between 1960 and 1975, it is estimated that over four-hundred films were produced by Cambodian filmmakers for cinemagoing audiences in Phnom Penh and provincial capitals across the country. Cambodia's Golden Era has now become a renewed area of interest for many people around the world, and especially for a section of a generation of Cambodian youth who have no direct experience with the genocide that their mothers, fathers, and many aunts and uncles lived through. Curiosity about 1960s fashion, songs, posters, and films melds with a desire to know a bit more about the past. This has led to a revitalization of Cambodia's film heritage through public screenings, art exhibitions, and events held to honor filmmakers and the stars of the Golden Era. But what is film heritage, and why not just refer to old films as "old films?"
Description: M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/100290
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:M.A. - Asian Studies



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